Project Results

This project went for 14 weeks and had some great results. I tested out a plant-based diet, ketogenic diet, and learned a lot.  To make sure my nutrition was excellent, I built a spreadsheet which automatically calculates my macronutrients and micronutrients. So, I can input my meal and the sheet tells me how much of each nutrient I am getting with each meal.

Looking back at my notes, it appears I felt the best when I was in a 500 calorie deficit and eating plant-based.  This is definitely a result I didn’t expect.  And I would need to do more testing to see if this is something I can replicate.

Another skill I worked on is planning out my meals. Planning them out in advance allows me to limit my shopping to once per week. And I can prep my meals once per week, but when I did that I missed doing the prep work each day.

One thing is very clear to me. My motivation is more determined by clarity of purpose than by food.  If I have something interesting to work on I am much more likely to be motivated than by what I eat.  However, food plays an assisting role.

For me to stay in ketosis, I need to stay under 50 g net carbs.  When I went above that, I didn’t feel too well.

I enjoyed listening to an audio book about cooking and food while preparing and eating my meals. It helped to connect more with the food I was eating.

One of the biggest benefits to doing one meal a day is that it makes it much easier to eat healthy. Because I planned out my meals, focused on nutrition. And I had to cook and eat it all at the same time.  This stopped me from wanting to snack all day.

What I plan to take into the future:

  • Most days do one meal a day, because it makes it so much easier to eat healthy
  • Plan my meals in advance – at the beginning of the week before I shop
  • Shopping once per week
  • No caffeine, low sugar

What I would like to do on a future project:

  • Test slight calorie deficit while eating plant-based while on/off ketogenic

Problems

#1 Low energy levels
#2 Low physical fitness
#3 Cyclical mood and motivation
#4 Eating same meals constantly

Desired Results

  • Improved health
  • Physical fitness: lean and strong
  • Sharp, clear thinking
  • Good mood with plenty of energy and motivation
  • 6-8 hours of sleep and wake up refreshed
  • Clear dreams, dream recall, and frequent lucid dreams
  • To be motivated to continue with this eating system long term
  • Spend $10-$15 CAD per day on food
  • Improve my culinary skills

There are two rules to follow:

Rule #1: Consume nutritious foods.

Rule #2: Avoid foods with low nutritious content.

Pretty simple.

Day-to-Day Maintenance

Grocery shopping is done once per week.

Workouts are done in a fasted state, typically 20-22 hours after last meal.

14 day meal plan is built using spreadsheet.

Food Project Timeline

On day one:

  • Quit caffeine & sugar
  • Started eating OMAD (one meal a day)
  • Started paleo diet

First 6 weeks (July 31-Sept 10) Ketogenic diet started on Sept 5th. 

  • I felt better at the gym.  I looked forward to my workouts.
  • My level of discipline increased. It was much easier to stay disciplined. I could focus easily.
  • I enjoyed people more. I felt more relaxed.
  • My teeth were noticeably cleaner.
  • My motivation was low.
  • My brain was often dull.
  • I needed to sleep a ton.
  • Certain evenings I felt low.  Then other evenings I felt positive. Usually I felt good in the mornings. This is mostly due to quitting sugar and caffeine.
  • Under my eyes felt tired.
  • Sept 7, 2017 Blood Glucose at 5.1 mmol, Ketones at 0.9 mmol. This is two days after I started keto.  Measurement taken at 7 PM, 3 hours after eating.
  • Sept 9, 2017 Blood Glucose at 4.6 mmol, Ketones at 1.4 mmol. Taken at 7:33 AM.
  • July 31 weight: 180 lbs, Sept 10 weight: 171 lbs

6 – 8 weeks (Sept 11 – 24 ) Plant-based diet started on the 13th

  • Creativity has increased.  Thinking is sharp.  Thoughts pop into my head which are clear solutions to problems. My mind is active.  It is easier for me to picture ideas, systems, or physical places.
  • Sleep time has decreased.  I began to wake up early,  around 5 AM.
  • Focused work is easy to do for long periods of time.
  • Mood is way, way better.  Feel good pretty much every evening.
  • Motivation is high.
  • A couple days after I switched to plant-based, my throat got a little sore. It was sore off and on for 4 days.
  • Get tired around 1-2 PM. The afternoons seem to be a lull for me. It can make me irritable. My mood is still positive, but irritable. But then I get a second wind around 5 PM.
  • Under my eyes still feels tired. I am wide awake, but my body feels a little sleepy. Almost like my mind is more awake than my body.
  • I started to take supplements necessary for plant-based eating: B vitamin, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin D, Chromium, Choline
  • Had first lucid dream in 3 years.
  • Had best workout in a long time, in terms of how I felt.
  • A headache that started coming and going.
  • Had a day where I was too tired to finish my workout. Then I didn’t feel good when I ate my meal later either.
  • Sept 14, 2017 Blood Glucose at 3.6 mmol, Ketones at 4.6 mmol. Taken at 6:30 AM.
  • Sept 24, 2017 Blood Glucose at 4.9 mmol, Ketones at 3.4 mmol. Taken at 8:47 AM.
  • Sept 11 weight: 171 lbs, Sept 24 weight:  169 lbs

8 weeks (Sept 25 – Oct 1)

  • Skin is more clear.
  • Had a day where I was exhausted. I slept for 9 solid hours and still needed to nap.
  • Afternoon lull is there some days  and some days there is no afternoon lull.
  • Under my eyes is feeling less tired, but I can still feel it occasionally.
  • Dreams are very vivid.
  • Moods are good. Motivation is good.
  • Energy is medium. I have enough to focus well, but I don’t feel high energy.
  • Some mild brain fog days.
  • Still have a headache that comes and goes.
  • Had second and third lucid dream.
  • Sept 25 weight: 169 lbs, Sept 27 weight: 168 lbs.  Once I hit 168 lbs, I increased calories back to maintenance.
  • Oct 2, 2017 Blood glucose at 3.5 mmol, Ketones at 4.9 mmol. Taken at 8:15 AM. This is at the end of first 14 day meal plan. Net carbs were 40 g to 50 g.

9 – 10 weeks (Oct 2 – Oct 15)

  • Increased net carbs to 65-73 g per day.
  • Had fourth lucid dream. (at start of week)
  • Dream clarity is high.
  • Sleeping 7 – 9 hours a night.
  • Mood, motivation, and energy is good initially. Energy, mood and motivation declined over the week.
  • A little brain fog after 1 PM some days.
  • Headaches have disappeared.
  • I am more tired lately. Brain fog too today. (Oct 8-11). Since increasing net carbs, there has been a definite increase in sleep. Looks to be close to an hour increase. Also haven’t been writing out dreams as much. Possibly because of being so tired and not waking up as sharp. Feeling hungrier on increased net carbs.
  • This may be the toughest period so far. (Oct 11) Mentally, I am finding it difficult to stay disciplined. Thinking about meat a lot today. Thinking about sugar and caffeine. My mind has been foggy for the last four or five days. I am having to remind myself that I am looking for an optimized diet. I am also decreasing my water intake as of today, because of stomach issues from too much insoluble fiber. And I am increasing psyllium powder intake to 1 tbsp a day (up from 1 tsp a day).
  • Oct 12, 2017 Increased coconut oil to 140 ml. Today, I decided that I was at a fork in the road. I either had to give up what I was doing or double down and recommit to it. There wasn’t an option to just keep going as normal. I chose to double down and refocus. I find it interesting that I am on the tenth week and it is psychologically so difficult right now. If coconut oil increase doesn’t bring very quick changes, I am returning to lower carb.
  • Oct 13, 2017 Slept full 8 hours, even after a nap of one hour yesterday evening. This morning and last night focus was improved slightly from last few days.
  • Oct 14, 2017 Ideas have started popping into my head again. Thinking is more clear.
  • Oct 15, 2017 Cut carbs down to under 30g net today.
  • Oct 5, 2017 Blood glucose at 3.4 mmol, Ketones at 5.1 mmol. Taken at 8 AM. This is after first 3 days of 65-73 g net carbs. Previous evening was 73 g net carbs.
  • Oct 7, 2017 Blood glucose at at 4.6 mmol, Ketones at 2.3 mmol. Taken at noon.
  • Oct 14, 2017 Blood glucose at 4.1 mmol, Ketones at 3.3 mmol. Taken at 9 AM

11 weeks -13 weeks (Oct 16 – Nov 5)

  • Decreased net carbs to under 30 per day (starting Oct 15)
  • Oct 17, 2017 Blood Glucose at 4.0 mmol, Ketones at 1.8 mmol. Taken at 9 AM. I took a measurement this morning, because I could tell my body has switched over since I decreased my net carbs a couple days ago. I am more alert and I needed an hour less of sleep. I find it odd that my ketone range and my blood glucose range are both in the same area as before. I expected them to be different. Obviously, it is not my ketone level or blood glucose level which is affecting the way I feel mentally. My guess is that my brain switches over from burning carbs to ketones once the carb intake gets low enough, even though my body still has tons of ketones floating around.
  • Oct 18, 2017 Weight: 166 lbs. Increased my calories to 3182
  • Oct 23, 2017 Blood Glucose at 3.7 mmol, Ketones at 2.4 mmol. Taken at 9 AM. A little bit of brain fog and a little tired today. Weight: 167 lbs.
  • Oct 24, 2017 My body seems to recovering surprisingly well after hard workouts. The food project is definitely contributing to the fitness project.
  • Oct 25, 2017 Started Sleep Project today. This will also affect how I feel for at least the next week.
  • Oct 26, 2017 Slight brain fog today even though I had 8 hours of sleep yesterday. My brain is fine for analysis work, but creativity seems to be more difficult. I was able to do some creative work in the morning. Recap: plant and ketogenic started at essentially the same time.  There was a brief period when I started when I was feeling really high energy. It could be one of two things: ketogenic with meat is better, or I was deficient in a supplement before I started supplementing. (Magnesium most likely)
  • Oct 30, 2017 Blood Glucose at 3.2 mmol, Ketones at 5.3 mmol. Taken at 9 AM. Oddly, at 9 AM I am very hungry. Usually, I don’t get hungry until later in the day. But I have plenty of ketones in me.  I wonder if it is because of The Sleep Project. Also, I had a few heart palpitations when I first woke up from my nap. From research it sounds like I could be low in electrolytes.
  • Nov 1, 2017. So far, for my practices, the best ones have been: listening to audio book and preparing foods in a new way (recipes). And creating a list of ideas to test and a list of audio books to buy was helpful.
  • Nov 2, 2017 – Weight:169 lbs. I had a bad headache after eating last night. Also lately I have been very thirsty so I have been drinking more water. Since I started biphasic sleeping, my hunger levels have increased in the late morning/early afternoon.
  • Nov 3, 2017 – I had a headache again tonight. Tomorrow I am going to start bringing fish & eggs back into my diet. My moods are fine lately, but I am not high energy. It seems like when I initially started plant based my energy levels were high for the first while. I would like to still track my nutrition with my meal planning sheet.
  • Nov 4, 2017 -Increased net carbs to under 50g Since I am adding meat back in, I want to add DHA rich foods. Limit red meat intake to 18 ounces per week. Right now, I am curious if optimal performance for me is about balance, comple nutrition profile every day, blood glucose/insulin, Omad, and nutritional ketosis. Limit oily fish to 560 g per week. Limit white meat(including fish) to less than 1260 g per week. Meaning 700 g for poultry if eating 560 g of fish per week. Fish and eggs were tasty today.

14 weeks – Project End (Nov 6 – Nov 8)

  • Current carbs are under 50 g, eating fish and eggs as well. Started (as of Nov 4)
  • Nov 6, 2017 – Had another lucid dream last night (level 2). I am not sure if it is this diet as it is now, or it is because I recently made a change to my diet.
  • Nov 8, 2017 – The Food Project is finished.

Mental Game: Philosophy & Motivation

Philosophy: Food is medicine.

Motivation: create an audio recording of benefits to diet changes (listed below). Listen to 3x a week.

Social: Don’t worry about OMAD when eating out. Eat salad or vegetables.

Cheat days: do not do. Changes should be sustainable.

Benefits to Diet Changes: My Motivation Fuel

  1. OMAD (form of intermittent fasting)
    • Saves time. Simplifies everything.
    • Easier to eat healthy.
    • Autophagy: body gets rid of faulty parts, stops cancerous growths, removes diseased cells, removes worn out cells.  Then the body recycles these cells.
    • BDNF Increases: supports survival of neurons. Encourages growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. These functions are crucial to staving off neurological diseases. BDNF is vital in learning, memory, and higher thinking. It is also expressed in retina, motor neurons, kidneys, saliva, and prostate.
    • Insulin Sensitivity Improved: this accelerates fat loss. Makes it less likely food is stored as fat.
    • Human Growth Hormone Increases: stimulates growth, cell reproduction, cell regeneration, increases muscle mass, and stimulates immune system.
    • Reduces blood pressure.
    • Mitocondria: increases the number of mitocondria in nerve cells. Mitocondria supply cellular energy. They oxidise glucose to provide for the cell. Also are involved in signaling, cell differentiation, cell death, and control cell division and cell growth.
    • In animal models, it improves cognitive functions and brain structures
    • Reduces blood pressure
  2. Quitting Caffeine/Sugar
    • More stable energy
    • Easier to wake up in the morning
    • Less irritability and anxiety
    • Improved mood
    • Sleep quality is better
    • Healthier teeth
  3. Ketogenic
    • Increases mental focus and performance.
    • Improvement in mitochondrial function.
    • Reduces hunger levels
    • Body uses fat as a fuel source. This reduces energy crashes.
    • Ketones protect against oxidative stress in parts of the brain. Ketones are the “fat fuel” that your body produces which the body can use as a primary source of energy.
    • Reduces blood sugar levels
    • Insulin (fat storage hormone) levels drop.
    • Diet has been shown to have benefits for a wide range of health conditions
  4. Plant Based
    • I had heartburn while doing ketogenic diet with meat. I only did the meat version for a week. This went away when I switched to plant-based foods.
    • My ability to focus increased
    • Moods improved
    • Skin became more clear
    • Increased insulin sensitivity
    • Protection against cardiovascular diseases, cardio metabolic risk factors, some cancers and total mortality.

Fallback Plan

The fallback plan prevents an immediate transition from focused diet to a day of doughnuts dipped in coffee.
Here are the steps back.  If the diet isn’t working…

  1. Currently here: Step back from plant-based food.  Add fish, and eggs.
  2. Step back from focus on fish and eggs. Go to Paleo.
  3. Step back from strict paleo. Incorporate cheese.
  4. Step back from ketogenic diet.  Increase carbs.
  5. Step back from paleo. Continue eating OMAD.
  6. Step back from OMAD.

The Circle + 80/20

  • Equipment: food scale, Precision Xtra Blood Glucose & Ketone Monitoring System, Fitbit Alta HR,
  • Spreadsheet: to track micronutrients, macronutrients, and costs
  • Experience:  Paleo & vegetarian diet, <33 g carbs, <75 g carbs, <50 g carbs, OMAD, ketogenic
  • Other: Fitness Project
  • Strong fallback plan, have already seen benefits from Food Project, have tested many variations of the food I am eating
  • Definite Results: ketogenic, OMAD, quitting caffeine and sugar
  • Possible Results: plant based

Outside Circle

  • Carb up day effects
  • Cheese, meat

Behind-the-Scenes

Meal Plan Fish & Eggs

Egg 168 g
Spanish mackerel 100g

Hemp Hearts 150 g
Unsweetened Coconut Milk 400 ml
Flax meal 50 g
Walnuts 25 g
Almond 25 g
Sunflower Seeds: 25 g
Almond Cashew butter 15g

Raw Broccoli 100 g
Crimini Mushrooms 100 g
Tomato 200 g
Romaine Lettuce 100 g
Olive Oil 30 g
Coconut Oil 30 g
Zucchini 250 g
Avocado 120
Onion 50 g

Order:

  1. Sauce
  2. Zucchini spirals
  3. Broil fish & broccoli
  4. Eggs: Use zucchini pan to make eggs
  5. Prep avocado & lettuce

Practice Ideas (improve culinary skills + stretch my mind)

  • Eat slowly. Put utensil down between bites – Tested: not useful
  • Listen to/read a book on food (not nutrition) Example: history of pasta – Tested: this is great
    • https://www.audible.com/pd/Bios-Memoirs/Garlic-and-Sapphires-Audiobook/B002V1LZDC/ (listened to)
    • https://www.audible.com/pd/Bios-Memoirs/Heat-Audiobook/B002V8MC8C/
    • https://www.audible.com/pd/Bios-Memoirs/Dirty-Dishes-Audiobook/
    • https://www.audible.com/pd/Bios-Memoirs/Yes-Chef-Audiobook/B008D2EKYY
    • https://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/Salt-Fat-Acid-Heat-Audiobook/B073V797JS
    • https://www.audible.com/pd/Science-Technology/The-Omnivores-Dilemma-Audiobook/B002VAGMJA/
    • https://www.audible.com/pd/Bios-Memoirs/Medium-Raw-Audiobook/B003TTX94I/
    • https://www.audible.com/pd/Bios-Memoirs/Mastering-the-Art-of-French-Eating-Audiobook/B00F8NBXKU/
  • Choose one food and prepare it differently
    • Blanch Broccoli (Boiling water for 60 seconds, then into icy water) – This was ok. 3/5
    • Blanch then Bake – Flavored Baked Nuts – this was ok, not that great. Nuts lost their crunch with blanching. 2/5
    • Steamed garlic broccoli with lemon – this was tasty: 4/5
    • Make homemade mayo
    • Baked broccoli: https://snapguide.com/guides/cook-flavorful-roasted-broccoli/
    • Blend baked seeds into a butter
    • Create lettuce wraps
  • See how fast I can prepare my meal
  • Test variety of fresh herbs with meal, different herbs with different portions